Even though I was raised in the city, one of the things my Dad loved to do was to take us on nature walks. During these he would point out trees and plants and let us pick wild blackberries and hazelnuts.
Foraging isn’t practical for everyone but when you get the chance I would recommend it. It helps ground you to where you live, and best of all it’s free. It’s also a fantastic activity to do with kids (just make sure to watch what they’re eating).
Recently Navan Fort and Visitor Centre in Co. Armagh, ran an event which provided a guided foraging walk and demonstration of the food and cooking methods our Celtic ancestors would have ate. I’m a big history nerd, so this was right up my street.
The staff in full Celtic regalia complete with spears really brought history alive, showing not only what the Celts ate, but how they cooked and lived, complete with a genuine Iron Age round house.
The staff were brilliant at getting younger visitors involved and having banter with the participants. They’re also extremely engaging, knowledgeable , and were really interesting.
We were then treated to the foraging element led by Fergal. It was great to be back in nature and learn the history and use of local plants.
I have to admit in being remiss at not taking more photos of the edible berries like haws, rosehips, and sloes (yes the things they make sloe gin with). One of the more interesting plants was Robert’s plant/herb Robert. Apparently this will be one of the most important cancer fighting drugs in the next decade. If you want to put it in a basin of warm water and soak your feet it also has great antioxidant properties.
I honestly couldn’t recommend the place highly enough. We were also treated to nettle soup (packed with iron and surprisingly tasty), pork and apple stew (we were in the orchard county after all), and a dessert of toasted oats and nuts, local honey, and berries and cream. The charming and entertaining Ita not only cooked all this but demonstrated how our ancestors would have made bread. The foraging events are coming to an end due to the time of year, but the place has different events all year round and is still well worth a visit at any time.